Folklore

In the broadest sense folklore is the traditional and cumulative knowledge of a culture which is passed down orally from one generation to the next.  These traditions may be broad and deep and may include its arts and crafts, its sacred narratives and histories, its dances and festivals, its functional techniques (agriculture, architecture, calendar making, etc.), its legends, taboos, and religious worldviews.

Oft times myth and folklore overlap.  Myth seems primarily concerned with cosmogonic events, etiological explanations, and a functional charter for social behavior.  Folklore is concerned with all traditions which are important to pass on.  The study of folklore is the study of what it means to be human.

William A. Wilson writes in The Deeper Necessity: Folklore and the Humanities: “Surely no other discipline is more concerned with linking us to the cultural heritage from the past than is folklore; no other discipline is more concerned with revealing the interrelationships of different cultural expressions than is folklore; and no other discipline is so concerned . . . with discovering what it is to be human.  It is this attempt to discover the basis of our common humanity, the imperatives of our human existence, that puts folklore study at the very center of humanistic study”(Journal of American Folklore 101:400, 1988).